by: Stephen T. Lawson [ ]
HistoryEvery standing army in the world before and during the turn of 20th century had specially trained personnel that dealt with destructive ordinance weapons.In the German aviation table of organization each individual unit had allocations for men that armed, installed or trained newer members to become qualified ordinance handlers.In the beginning many of the Grenadier Cavalry found new service duties in the air arm of each country.This meant each aviation unit was assigned men who were trained in machine gun maintenance and explosive ordinance handling.As the war dragged on well into 1918 men were often pulled from these units to be placed back into the trenches replacing the casualties of these frontline units.In the end almost every enlisted man was doing double and triple duty in aviation units as mechanics, fitters, unit mess, ordinance, office paper work and guard duty.
Copper State Models Ltd has given us the first in their series of German Aerodrome Personnel.Set # 5 in their figures group is a German enlisted soldier carrying a grenade rack.The Model 24 Stielhandgranate "stalk (stick) hand grenade" was the standard German grenade and was nicknamed “the potato masher”.Its history can be traced from Germany to China from 1913-1949. To use the grenade, the base cap was unscrewed, permitting the ball and cord to fall out. Pulling the cord dragged a roughened steel rod through the igniter causing it to flare up and start the five-second fuse burning.This allowed the grenade to be hung from fences to prevent them from being primed, any disturbance to the dangling grenade would cause it to fall and ignite the fuse.
The type of rack that the figure is carrying appears to be just for transport from the ordinance shed to the aircraft. Normally boxes were attached to the aircraft fuselage sides and bolted in place and the grenades were hand loaded aboard while the aircraft was on the airfield tarmac before being cleared for operational duty. Some of these racks were mounted inverted with Cotter pins or upright in boxes with deep sockets.The long stems attached to these grenade heads are simple stay pins to keep the grenades in place when in the box.These were typically seen on LVG C.V, VI and other two-seater airframes.(Note: Copper State Models is preparing another set with a three-man grenadier team and a wagon for similar upright racks seen on two-seater aircraft like the Hannover CL.II, III and IIIa or Halberstadt CL.II – IV aircraft.) To alter the type used in these deep socket boxes just shear off the stems from the box bottom.See the colorized Halberstadt CL.II image.
PaintingThe figure can be painted in any of a number of ways I stuck with making him a Gefreiter of the Prussian Guards Grenadier.I have taken a single liberty by adding the red piping for the tunic back face from waist to shoulders.Variations were not uncommon.The cuff flaps and scalloped pockets in the rear of the skirts was usually a Prussian unit affiliation for the infantry.I could have added red piping to the trousers but I chose to represent them as generic replacements.
ConclusionThe figure was sculpted by master Andrey Blyoskina.It is a very easy build. Sometimes you must fidget with arms to get them to fall like the manufacture's example. Not so with this Copper State Models item. The arms seem to lock in place and makes resetting a thing of the past. The detail and fit are excellent! The stance of the figure shows a human carrying a weight at mid chest level. I give it top marks.
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